The NFL is Still Reeling From Concussions – By Joseph Cox

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Image result for tom savage vs 49ersLast Sunday on the turf at Reliant Stadium, Houston Texans QB Tom Savage laid out in the end zone after taking a violent shot and had his head bounce forcefully off of the turf. He showed all the signs of a classic concussion. His body stiffened as his brain tried to regain control after bouncing around vigorously within his skull. He clenched his fists out from his body for a few seconds before coming to. It’s painfully obvious Savage had just suffered a serious brain trauma; it’s on tape. Yet, Texans staff cleared him through CTE protocol, or so Savage had thought, and minutes later prepared to return to the field before a quick thinking assistant coach pulled him back. Head Coach Bill O’Brien offered this explanation on Monday…”I did not have benefit of the video, I didn’t see that….If I had the video, from my standpoint, I would’ve never let that player back in the game.” But, he did.

Image result for NFL medical tentIf you’ve watched NFL football this season, you’ve seen that the mini blue CTE tent has stayed very busy during games. Players are constantly “hustled” in and out, almost seemingly given some smelling salts and a slap on the butt to get back out there quickly. The NFL paid it’s due for misleading players about CTE and it’s long term effects. It cost the league a cool $100 Billion, yet here we are still. The NFL, as a separate entity from it’s franchises, has made an effort to recognize and diagnose the problem. The league mandated CTE protocol and gave teams an easy, quick, and efficient outlet to diagnose potential concussions without having to travel all the way back to the locker rooms and medical equipment department. Now, the issue has fallen upon team doctors and personnel who are the ones clearing these woozy athletes with swollen brains to go back into battle. If the league does not want to pay out another $100 Billion, they had better step in NOW. Violations of CTE protocol should be the stiffest penalty in all of pro football, as this issue is indefinitely it’s biggest besides ratings.The first offense should be a very stiff fine levied against the team for CTE protocol violation with repeated offenses escalating to include draft picks. “If you can’t protect your players better, you don’t deserve to pick a 20 year old out of college and ruin his brain.”

This all wouldn’t be a valid argument just ten years ago, but we have all become fully aware of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and it’s effects on player’s brains. We’ve heard the horror stories of CTE from Junior Seau’s suicide to ex-Chiefs player Jovan Belcher, who in 2012, fatally shot his girlfriend and drove to the team’s facility and shot himself in front of coaches and teammates. There’s the infamous story of Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster, the first to be diagnosed with CTE and was the focus of Will Smith’s 2015 hit ‘Concussion’. Webster’s son describes seeing his father use Ritalin to control his mood swings and watching him shock himself with a taser to calm his nerves. Aaron Hernandez’s brain was rife with CTE. The late Hall of Famer Ken Stabler told reporters before his death, he couldn’t remember much about his football days.

The NFL wants this to go away oh so badly. It’s not good. A black eye on the sport. It makes future parents of young boys who want to strap on a helmet much more skeptical of football itself. The league has bigger fish to fry in terms of revenue, but this is something that needs to be “regulated” before they lose even more money on the subject and hurt the long term growth of the NFL. Maybe Bill O’Brien is onto something with linking satellite feed to coaches tablets allowing that respected coach to make the call if he feels the player obviously, as in Savage’s case, should not be out there endangering his health even further. Those “tough guy” days are over.

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